Archive for March, 2008


March 27, 2008



Many people oppose “hard power” (supposedly American, good) and “soft power” (European, weak). They have it all wrong. It’s common sense: before smashing someone’s face, a few words are in order to clarify the situation, and give the opponent a chance to evolve positively. Absent this attitude, one cannot really initiate positive change. And this is exactly what one observes: but for the disastrous invasion of Iraq, the USA has always been hanging way behind European intervention, often by many years.

European “soft power” was not that soft in Bosnia, and it came years before the USA. French artillery used radar guided counter fire to silence the guns that were destroying Sarajevo. True the Dutch got overwhelmed, later, during the Srebrenica Massacre, and when they asked the French to help, the later military could not, officially because of a dearth of combat helicopters (only the USA had enough of these, it was claimed).

France also intervened in Rwanda in 1994, ultimately dropping from the sky (with some US logistical help) an entire paratroop division, that stopped the tit for tat genocide (that guaranteed the furor of those who wanted some more vengeance).

Of course, we do not expect these facts to be widely known among US lovers of neoconservatism. Colonial English American neoconservativism is by definition anti French ever since American Founding Fathers such as Jefferson were told they could not keep slaves in Paris (by the police of the Ancient Regime!) and ever since La Fayette tried to persuade his good friend Washington, the famous slave owner, to abrogate slavery. But so much the better: nothing European progressivism loves more than a never ending war with US neoconservatives. It’s like going to the gym to work out against stupid machines, but now to exercise the moral and mental muscles instead.

In conflicts, the most important, and most moral foundation is simply to be right, or more exactly, less wrong, and adaptive (learning quickly from one’s mistakes).

European “soft power” is often misunderstood: it gets everywhere, and so it gets involved easily enough to bring any conflict to a head, by its mere presence, but not enough to use overwhelming force, and kill it. In a way, soft power is the opposite of the Powell doctrine (that is, to use overwhelming force). Soft power can be insidious, all the way down to a soft mental virus, and completely lethal to old thought.

An example is those European journalists who interrupted the Olympic Games’ lighting-of-the-flame a few days ago. They got arrested by Greek police, but they promised more. What did great nation China do for greater glory seeking now that slapped in the face? Well it made a bad situation worse. China censored the news, showing fake footage, and its true face, bloody, uncomprehending, dazed, senile. Uninformed, uneducated Chinese were then interviewed in Chinese streets by a delighted Western media, and they showed in turn a blatantly sheepish Chinese public, bleating contently that the heavenly Chinese government would set everything right up there in heavens. So two European journalists in far away Greece made China stumble, for the entire world to see. Much more of this, and China will have to choose between becoming again a rabidly idiotic dictatorship, or turning some more the pages away from simpler fascist methods. In any case, change.

The European idea of soft power is to seize the high moral ground, which is the most important ground to occupy in war. To do that, the Europeans have learned to trot out important matters of principle, stick to them, and open a dialogue about them. Or a monologue. The idea is not to be cuddly. Quite the opposite. The idea is to harass with ideas. It allows to start small, hence right away. Experience shows that thinking is what fascists hate the most, and are the most vulnerable to. They really can’t take it, because fascism, by definition is a simplification of thinking. Complicated thinking is by definition anti fascist.

This method was inaugurated against Hitler. France (and, more reluctantly, Britain) put pressure on the Nazis, a soft pressure which increasingly reduced the mental freedom of the Nazis, to the point they made a fatal mistake (attacking Poland without noticing that a small print clause in its treaty with France guaranteed that Britain would follow France in counterattacking the Nazis).

The first problem with US “hard power” is that it often cannot be engaged, and thus becomes an excuse for cowardice (as demonstrated by Clinton in Bosnia for years, as Roger Cohen points out:

All too obsessed by total victory, which looked dubious with the Nazis, the USA, just like in 1914-1916, did not want to get involved in enforcing democracy by supporting its parents, France and Britain, lest it be TOO conflictual. So the USA was not at Munich, and had an embargo against France (for being aggressive against those poor Nazis). If the USA had been at Munich, things would have been different. Both in 1939, and in 1914, things would have been also very different (France, which was most the military might of the West at the time, would have attacked Hitler right there, or Hitler would have lost face).

The fear of soft power, power on the matters of principle, led the USA to NOT send ONE cartridge to France in 1940 (by contrast, 90% of American cartridges were French during the American independence war). Instead the USA waited, from 1914 until 1917, and from 1933 until Hitler declared war to the USA for Christmass 1941… As if the USA was waiting to see on which side it was better to use overwhelming force to come to the rescue of victory.

Using overwhelming force is also the US way against smaller opponents. This is an American habit developped when exterminating the Red Skins during the three centuries it took to genocide them (the most successful genocide in the known history of mankind). It was highly successful, since, until recently, the USA was a triumph of the white European race and its ways, so it was self reinforcing. It became a cultural trait.

This pouncing on the weak guarantees the lowest moral ground, insuring long term defeat when the enemy cannot be outright exterminated (and exterminating all of the long civilized and very populous Middle East is distinctly more challenging than exterminating neolithic populations).

That is what has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan, with grotesque “shock and awe”. All what intensive aerial bombing has guaranteing is that Homo Americanus Simplex occupies the lowest moral rung. To ask NATO to help splash around that ethical sewer would just spread a moral, and mortal infection. What is needed is an EXTRICATION from the present MORAL ABYSS, and once high morality has been regained, and a stakeholder plan for the average Iraqi and Afghan has been devised, get much cheaper UN soldiers to come in to back up the Iraqi and Afghani armies (if there is a need, but if things are well done, there should be little of a need).

French and Western European and African Union forces are involved in the Darfur-Chad-Central African theater in a much more reserved way (the occasional French special force soldier dies in Sudan). Instead the Powell doctrine would call to march onto Khartoum, after bombing the hell out of it, killing hundreds of thousands, and costing a fortune one does not have (either morally or financially). Thus the Powell doctrine can’t do a thing, but France/EU/AU has slowly, and softly, deployed thousands of troops and proxies, putting an increasing squeeze on the miscreants. France also was for a very long time in a quasi war with Libya. That allowed to contain Libya, and gave it time to perceive the extent of some of its errors, and change its ways. Full war could well have only reinforced the miscreants, or create an Iraq like mess.

Hard power is mentally retarded if the enemy has not been discovered first. In Iraq and Afghanistan the enemies are mostly not what the USA has been fighting. One cannot drop a bomb on economic improvement, no more than on corruption, backwardness, or the Qur’an. Bringing in one more school, rather than one more bomb would be more like it. Of course, Quranists kill for thoughts, as bin Laden kindly reminded us last week; so teachers will need bodyguards: soft power does not mean no power. Bin Laden insisted that the “freedom of words” was a worse offense than simple bombing. The man hinself says it; he fears soft power more than hard power. Nothing like a drawing of his prophet doing his thing: it drives him mad, because it shatters his universe.

In Tibet, we have an excellent occasion to show to that astute student of Western ways, China, that much progress still needs to be done on the moral and cognitive level. Putting pressure on China of course cannot be done in an overwhelming way (it would mean a world war). But it can be done using soft power. Start by requiring the full reopening of Tibet to non Chinese capable of reporting what’s going on. Absent this, one does one want to repeat the moral atrocity of 1936 (when Hitler inaugurated the Olympic games). The UN general assembly could be presented with a vote towards boycotting the opening ceremony (to start with). China has lost face in Tibet, but does not know it. Without an opening ceremony to the Games, it will lose face in a way that all Chinese folks will be able to see. Let them light up the flame with just Chinese to look up at it. That would be soft power, true, but it will be also capturing the moral high ground, and showing to all the Chinese population they are becoming international pariahs.

Making the WW II Germans into international pariahs significantly weakened Hitler’s military power: too many Germans knew they were viewed as evil by the rest of the world, they could not set their hearts to fight for evil to death as much as they would have otherwise. International moral pressure is very powerful, it works. It undermines Goliath’s mind. When Goliath is confused enough, about why he is doing what he is doing, he is ready for a high technology demise.

Patrice Ayme


March 13, 2008


Abstract: Tribes are WMD. In light of this, overall, empires allowed progress: transnationalism and overlords are a necessity to hold back the well ingrained tribal Dark Side of man. Although one should not forget that the battle of ideas has been helped by the battles of tribes.

In a more distant past, land transportation was very difficult, so the nations were smaller. Now we call them tribes. But tribes were a stronger notion than nations. Tribes are often characterized, and separated, by language, religion, color, often biological inheritance. Denying the later is futile: just look at Pigmies.

When Africa was completely administered by Europeans it was cut up in larger administrative units the size of large European nations (except Ethiopia). This arranging was not arbitrary. For example, there used to be an empire of Mali, pretty much where the French decided Mali was. Nevertheless, the creation of each of the African nations was an experience in TRANSNATIONALISM (otherwise we would have several hundred African nations). Under the overlordship of the Europeans, that forced experience in calm understanding of the other worked just fine. But it’s unlikely it can be pursued without overlords.

In Europe nations fought each other for centuries, and before this, tribes did it for even longer. Europe has improved recently, but mostly because of the presence of OVERLORDING STRUCTURES (occupational armies and now the EU).

Lesson? Africa should be overlorded upon. The African Union (AU), the EU, the UN, the IMF and NGOs can play such roles. This is how the crises in Rhodesia, South Africa, the Sahara, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, Ivory Coast, Darfur and Kenya have been dealt with. This is how Europeans have been dealing with their own tribal conflicts, using supranational structures (many now part of the EU).

It’s fashionable among some shallow European intellectuals to scorn the Europeans for having “created” a mess in Africa, although such an attitude only denotes a dismissive lack of knowledge of not just World, but, also, of European history. Europe used to be all cut up in smaller nations, in other words, tribes. Tribes used to fight all out (with plenty of Shoahs, as in the Bible). The Celts invaded North Western Europe, and then half of Italy (where Rome stopped them with extreme difficulty); some Celts invaded all the way to the center of present day Anatolia, “fearing only that the sky would fall on their heads”. Four centuries later, Julius Caesar used a migration of the Helvetic tribe across Long-Haired-Gaul (Gallia Comida) as a pretext to invade all of Gaul. Caesar won, because Rome represented progress and union, and many Celts could feel this, so they did not resist (a similar phenomenon happened when Judea got conquered). Europe united because the empires of the Romans and Franks crushed most tribal organization (including, in the end, their own: Romans were forbidden to enroll in the … Roman army!).

The emotional mess in Southern Slav lands (Yugo-Slavia) was a consequence of the fact those were, in the fullness of time, at the intersection of no less than seven empires. Yugoslavia did not erase its tribal differences because it was never solidly inside one empire long enough (emperor Heraclius had allowed the Serbs to settle in present day Serbia in the 7C, to reward them for fighting (the ancestors of) the Mongols; the frontier with the “Pars Occidentalis” was just west). 

The Greco-Roman empire and various versions of the Persian empire, were gigantic experiments in transnationalism, in tribal extermination, and in the advancement of higher philosophical principles, especially tolerance, and even enrichment by difference (this is also true for the Mongols and early Islam). This was deliberate: after Rome destroyed “Judea” (70 CE), she immediately installed Yahve, the Jewish God, in the Roman pantheon, to grab Yahve’s best. That courtesy was not extended to Celtic or Punic divinities, which depicted traits Rome viewed as inferior. One hundred fifty years later, all free men of the empire were made citizens.


“What does not kill me makes me stronger” said Nietzsche famously. One could say a fortiori the same for ideas: “War does not kill ideas, it makes them stronger” (for examples, the Franks invented plenty of new techniques as they faced the Muslims in a war of extermination, including the idea of nationalization of the church). Inter tribal murder makes ideas stronger, and they don’t even have to die. In other words, inter tribal holocausts have encouraged mental creativity. Desperate situations make for innovative thinking; the brain is first a survival machine. (When Syracuse was sieged, super thinker Archimedes helped with war machines (giant claw, burning mirrors, steam canon) which struck imaginations for millennia to come, if not the Romans; the first recipes for gunpowder are found in a Chinese military textbook of 1044; the first recorded use of rockets was by the Chinese in 1232 against the Mongols.)

So much innovation came from deadly conflicts that it is unlikely that the world of ideas would have achieved as much without the world of war (the point is moot, anyway, because without war, mankind would not have survived agriculture). It is actually unlikely; the human brain’s high energetic demands required fat and flesh. Not only is it in general true that in the fullness of time, the best way to become a successful carnivore is to have a big brain (wild chimpanzees love meat, and dolphin know how to kill sharks), but, as early Homos became more and more delicate and precise in their physiology, hence weaker, armed bellicosity became ever more important (Homo is much weaker than a chimpanzee in muscle and compensate this with brain and weapon).

As we do away with tribes, we want to keep mock, make believe conflicts, lest we fall in mental torpor. That is why a lot of academia is organized so as to promote strong emotions to keep those mental juices flowing with lots of tempting payments, and titles, and even as they had it in the Middle Ages and similarly retarded places, silly costumes.

Hominids are social predators, they fight best in groups, as one mass, and the delight they take in satisfying the fascist instinct makes sure of that. As agriculture made tribes possible, those masses became enormous, and so did the fascism. The Dark Side of human beings made tribes into Weapons of Mass Destruction. The foundational document of Judeo-Christo-Islamism shows Israel being born from holocausts (“Shoahs”). That was pretty much typical. The alternative was to eat everything down to the last rat.

Hominids have been on this planet for millions of years, as top predators, and they knew no enemy as lethal as themselves. This gave plenty of time and necessity for evolution to hardwire the hatred of man towards man in man. Homo killing Homo not only created Homo (by eliminating closely related monsters), but also kept the earth in balance (Homo being the top predator had to self predate). Man had to kill man so man could be, and it’s somewhat hypocritical to deny this. And also dangerous, because the tribal instinct feeds on the fact that the Dark Side, deep down, for the reasons we just sketched, is more enlightened than it looks, and, thus, cannot be completely avoided, ever.

To deny this is to fall into the trap of extinction. Hillel the Elder abstracted his view of Jewish morality this way: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. The rest is commentary” (~0 CE). The problem with this (Babylonian) “Golden Rule” is that it eschews the Dark Side, which, as we said, was necessary not just to the continuation of man, but to his evolutionary creation. If one chooses to ignore this formidable, constitutive element of the moral universe, one ends with a lower dimensional hypersurface in reality. The resulting low dimensional morality can get folded by higher dimensional reality, like a crepe can be, because it’s all it is, and it is so voluntarily naive, that it should be viewed as a morality made conveniently edible, something to consume, a self immolating accomplice of the greatest evil (except in genuine mental retards).

Nazism was a typical modern synthetic tribalism. All united, in the hatred of the other (French, Jew, Communist, Slav, etc.). Tribalism is made to kill, the rest is commentary. Commentary can actually augment tribalism: Germany was the most literate country in the world, as she sank into tribal fascism. This has to be kept in mind as, thanks to the Internet, literacy is augmenting worldwide. It’s not reading which does it, it’s what you read: garbage in, holocaust out. 

The moral idea of tribe is now too dangerous (because of Weapons of Mass Destruction). The future belongs to the UN, the EU, and honest brokers therein, or imperial principles built along those lines. Tribes have got to go.
Patrice Ayme

Applying Equipartition Of Energy To Climate Change PREDICTS WILD WEATHER.

March 8, 2008

Lately, the world weather has been especially perplexing, influenced by the cold ocean temperatures of a La Niña current in the equatorial Pacific. For Earth’s land areas, 2007 was the warmest year on record.

This year, record cold is more the norm. Global land-surface temperatures so far are below the 20th-century mean for the first time since 1982, according to the National Climatic Data Center. Last month in China, snowstorms stranded millions of people, while in Mumbai, officials reported the coldest day in 46 years. 

Yet, England basked in its fourth-warmest January since 1914, the British Met Office reported. The crocus and narcissus at the U.K.’s Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew flowered a week earlier than last year — 11 days ahead of their average for the decade and weeks ahead of their pattern in the 1980s. In Prague, New Year’s Day was the warmest since 1775.

“It is difficult to judge the significance of what we are seeing this year,” said Kew researcher Sandra Bell. “Is it a glitch or is it the beginning of something more sinister and alarming?”” (Robert Lee Hotz, Wall Street Journal, March 8, 2008).

Many scientists have pondered this question, as if they did not know the answer, but it is a straightforward application of thermodynamics.

A basic theorem of equilibrium thermodynamics, the EQUIPARTITION OF ENERGY theorem, says that the same amount of energy should be present in all degrees of freedom into which energy can spill.

(How does one demonstrate this theorem? Basically, heat is agitation, kinetic energy at the scale of atoms and molecules. This agitation can spill in a more organized manner, in great ensembles, such as vast low and high pressure system, or large scale dynamics. See the note on entropy and negative temperatures.)

In the case of meteorology, this implies, oversimplifying a bit, that only one-third of the energy should go into heat (and everybody focuses on the augmentation of temperature). Now, of course, since the energy enters the system as heat, non equilibrium thermodynamics imposes more than one-third of the energy will be heat.

As time goes by, though, the other two degrees of freedom, potential energy (represented as the geometry of gradients of pressures, high and low pressure systems, hurricanes) and dynamics (wind speed and vast movements of air masses of varying temperatures and/or pressure; and the same for sea currents) will also store energy.

Thus the new heat created in the lower atmosphere by the increased CO2 greenhouse will be transformed in all sorts of weather weirdness: heat, cold, high and low pressures, wind, and big moves of big things. Big things such as vast re-arrangements of low and high pressure systems, as observed in the Northern Hemisphere, or the re-arrangement of sea currents as apparently also observed, and certainly as it is expected. Since it happened in the past (flash ice age of the Younger Dryas over Europe, 18,000 years ago).

As cold and warm air masses get thrown about, the variability of temperatures will augment all over.

In other words, record snow and cold in the Alps and record warmth simultaneously in England is a manifestation of the equipartition of energy theorem applied to the greenhouse warming we are experiencing. It is not mysterious at all, and brutal variations such as these, including sudden cold episodes, are to be expected, as more and more energy gets stuffed in the planetary climate, and yanks it away from its previous equilibrium.

Wind speed augmentation have already have a spectacular effect: by shaking the waters of the Austral ocean with increasingly violent waves, carbon dioxyde is being removed as if out of a shaken carbonated drink. Thus the Austral ocean is now a net emitter of CO2.

Hence the observed variations are the beginning of something more sinister and alarming. Climate change is changing speed. Up, up, and away.

Patrice Ayme

Note on entropy: Some may object that transforming heat into collective behavior of vast masses of air or sea violates the Second Law Of Thermodynamics, namely that entropy augments always, in any natural process. Well, first of all, the genius of the genus Homo, not to say of all of life itself, rests on local violations of the Second Law. Secondly, the most recent physics recognizes that fundamental considerations allow systems where increased energy lead to increased order (such a system is said to be in a negative temperature state).

Even more revealingly, a massive greenhouse on planet Earth would lead, as happened in the past, to a much more uniform heat, all around the planet, that is, a more ordered state. Meanwhile, the transition to the present order of a temperate climate to the completely different order of an over-heated Earth will bring complete disorder, as observed.


March 8, 2008

Money creation and destruction is highly non linear, and depends upon mass psychology. As of March 2008, the USA is threatening to plunge into a classic self perpetuating deflationary spiral. A complicating factor is the US debt held by foreigners, in a situation of trade deficit (the latter for the reason of a dearth of industrial infrastructure, hence a dearth of production of real products that mean something when exchanged in the world economy). While, simultaneously, the US Dollar is not anymore the sole world reserve currency (at the present rate, it will soon be displaced, not just by the Euro, but even by the Pound!). In other words, the USA is affected by problems reminiscent of Japan in 1990, and also of Argentina much earlier (when Argentina enjoyed the world’s second highest GDP per head, before collapsing in a classic currency run when the foreigners which held Argentinean debt had enough of its self indulgent profligacy). To boot, the USA is stuck in a disastrous war which sucks away all the investment which could leverage the economy up with investments profitable in the long term to the US socioeconomy in general, instead of being sown somewhere on the other side of planet, among dunes and minarets.

Here is a short term solution to the US financial crisis: what about reevaluating all principals on recent residential mortgages 50% lower? (Tapering off the reevaluation in a crafty way.) That would be an enormous shock, but a heart gets out of fibrillation through a shock. There would be problems with municipalities, through some tax receipts readjustments, but this should be addressed as they happen, with localized federal bail outs, etc.

And now for how to solve the long term socioeconomic problems affecting the USA: starting with Nixon (debasement of the dollar, creation of HMO plutocratic health “care”), the basic problem of the USA became that it wanted to be the Wild West. And what happened to the Wild West? Well, it disappeared, right. And why did it disappear? Because it was not compatible with modern civilization. The Wild West was legislated, and regulated out. Now the world economic community is doing the same to the entire USA, or more exactly the USA is doing it to itself: making itself disappear everyday ever more as the US currency sinks quickly into irrelevance.

The present world economic situation calls for new regulations and solutions, and the rest of the world has been implementing them (Kyoto Treaty), boosting world wide efficiency. The USA has been innovative in some fluffy picturesque details of the world economy (Google clicks, iphone, hedge funds, etc…), but missed the big picture for incredibly long.

So here is the one and only long term solution for the USA: to get a modern economy one needs to change to a modern behavior, which one gets from behavioral (Pigovian) taxes on consumption and energy. The US economy, after decades of stuffing its face with SUVs and inefficient houses, transportation, and everything inefficient one can possibly imagine, has become not just deeply inefficient, but obsolete in its habits and short of around one hundred trillion US $ of past infrastructure investment that has never happened (to understand what is going on, start to consider what it would take to build a modern railway system in the USA; a little detail: the Swiss and Franco-Italians are building three very high speed trans Alpine tunnels for 30 billion US $; Europe is investing hundreds of billions in very high speed rail (up to 250 mph); US rail was obsolete 50 years ago, but still, it is crucial to the US economy).

Oh, yes, and that would be the third solution dimension, it would also help to have a hyper efficient health care system, and that means a legislated single payer basic system, as all other advanced countries have (not having this puts the US at a deep economic disadvantage). People’s life should not been held hostage to the rich. Real health care reform does not mean the pathetic tinkering Hillbama has been reduced to, before they even started. Nixon did not have only bright ideas, and, contrarily to what he asserted, he was a crook. (His) HMOs got to go.

Patrice Ayme


March 4, 2008

R2P (Right to Protect) was established as a fundamental right during the 2005 World Summit. It’s hard to implement. But international intervention in Kenya in 2008 used still another right.

Kofi Annan seems to have allowed the parties in presence in Kenya to exert their R2T, RIGHT TO TALK. This is a right which is related, but distinct from PEOPLE POWER (Demos Kratos, democracy). R2T does not compete, nor replace, but adds to democracy. The Athenians had the notion, and went to great lengths to allow that right to blossom.With modern technology this crucial buttress to democracy can be implemented planet-wise (and this is one of the reasons for the success of blogs).   

Verily, the essence of man is SPEECH. All other things humans do, some animal can be found, doing it too. All. Except one, speech.

R2T could avert or solve many a conflict. For example the parties in presence about Kosovo should be encouraged to exert their right to talk, before going back to bloodshed. Then, of course, the Serbian position would come empty, because, if Serbia and Kosovo access to the European Union, they will be happy, dependent, and independent and borderless anyway. The Russians would have to admit they are angry because it’s the European Union which is the super power, and they are just have-beens. All those preferring tanks to talk should be have-beens.

Obama wants to do something like that with health care: conduct negotiations in public. Let the US drug companies explain why they sell the same drug in the same box four times dearer in the USA than in the EU. Let them explain to the public why they have extravagant marketing-advertising-lobbying budgets in the USA, and near non existent ones in the EU. let the health care insurance companies explain why it makes sense to have 10,000 lamentable health plans in the USA, all private, all profitable, each with its own overhead, when there is only one basic health care plan in France, best, lean, fast, national, patriotic, and not for profit.

R2T is more basic and much easier to implement than R2P. It should be a preliminary to R2P, wherever possible. The Basque terroristic independentists should be allowed to make their case, for example, and where it comes short the law could be enforced afterwards with even more severity than before, and where they have a point, it could be conceded. And so on, all over the planet.

At some point, experience shows people prefer surrendering to talking any further. If nothing else, mind meld insures this…

Patrice Ayme


March 1, 2008

March 1, 2008 by patriceayme

Abstract: Afghanistan is not the American west,  battles of ideas are settled at school, not on a firing range.

After Al Qaeda attacked on 9-11, the countries of NATO determined that, for the first time, the mutual collective defense clause had been activated: the attack on the USA was an attack on all. But the USA haughtily refused help, and bombed, invaded, and cleverly pushed Al Qaeda and the Taliban into Pakistan, all by its little neoconserved self. That policy of bombing first and thinking later came short, and Uncle Sam soon begged NATO to come and help. In early 2008, Afghanistan is held by 26,000 US troops, and 37,000 NON US NATO troops (plus 35,000 Afghans). But Uncle Sam is whining ever louder, begging the Franco-Germans, for example, to send thousands more troops (although the French army has thousands more in a shooting war in the Central African-Chad-Darfur theater). Relative to their population, the Franco-Germans have already 40% of the troops in Afghanistan that the USA has, so the whining and begging now has been that the areas the Franco-Germans administer are more peaceful (!). Such calm may be related to the reticence of the Europeans to massacre the populations.

In US controlled areas, the Taliban is doing better everyday. Why? A long report, “Subduing the Korengal Valley” (New York Times, 24 Feb. 2008), is revealing. A 26 year old US captain, has been made “Lord of the Korengal”. That US citizen has right of life and death on the natives. The US Army has forts in a valley, and uses helicopters, flying gun ships, and giant supersonic bombers against the natives. The rambunctious natives methodically resist, and occasionally get lucky and kill US troops. It’s all very personal: the US Army knows the names of who is trying to kill them, and where their homes still are. Occasionally, the Americans shoot anti tank rockets into these houses, killing a few more women and children (obviously Afghan houses are built much better than US houses, because they keep on striking the same houses!)

The greatest moral victory occurs when a local boy admits to the captain that a local resistance fighter is “bad”. The captain wanted the child to say that for months, he feels he is getting somewhere, he is relieved. The child suggests that next time the American does not shoot a TOW into his home, but rather into the cemetery.

Far from destroying some mysterious Taliban, in the entire story, US troops are actively searching and killing natives of the Korengal valley. It feels like the nineteenth century, with the US army bringing forth the destruction of the last Apaches. It’s a picture of utter, would be genocidal devastation, rather than of a high moral ground.

But WARS ARE MOSTLY WON BY FINDING AND OCCUPYING THE HIGH MORAL GROUND. The Allies occupied the high moral ground in WW I and WW II (democracy fighting fascism), so they won. In the Algerian or Vietnam wars, the moral situation was murky (so resistance to the war developed within France and the USA). Where is the moral high ground in Afghanistan? It’s certainly not in killing people in the very valley where they were born, with wild abandon.

The moral system of the Taliban is Islamist. ISLAM IS A RELIGION WHICH CLAIMS TO BE A CIVILIZATION: Islam is the law, the government, the entire universe: ISLAM IS AUTOCRATIC. The Western Europe of the Franks never had this problem: in the early Middle Ages, Catholics, Jews (and, in places, even Muslims), governments, the schools, women, and the law, were all nominally independent and powerful: THE WEST IS PLURIPOTENT, THEREIN ITS STRENGTH (actually the Franks were more pluripotent, hence potent, than the Romans, and that is why they replaced them).

Some of the potent mental structures used in the West were immensely old, perfectly honed. In particular, the West had thousands of books for centuries (although the fanatical theocratic Roman Catholics had just destroyed most of them). In 700 CE, Islam had just one book, just one, only one small little book, and it was written with a still incomplete Arabic alphabet (so it’s not clear what it said). While in south west France the twin cameral parliamentary system was in a sense 3,700 years old (from Sumer, north east of Mecca, but long very civilized).
What is usually viewed as the basics of Islam are described in the 400 pages Qur’an. Most people in the West, who, like Bush, evoke the Qur’an with respect, have never read it.
Pity, because it would make an excellent comic strip. Women are subjugated, slave girls are enjoyed even before being sold, non believers are killed, those who insult God or the Prophet are killed, the highest way to God is war in the name of God, God creates non believers so He can make them swallow molten lead, Jews have been turned into apes and pigs, and, at the end of the Book, all cities are destroyed by God.

Pity too because the Qur’an is NOT Muhammad’s work. Verily it was commandeered by Uthman, a successor (“caliph”) of Muhammad, who was widely viewed as a dictator in his time (he faced a rebellion for writing the Qur’an, and burning alternatives, and was killed for it).

Aisha, Muhammad’s beloved widow, was strenuously opposed to the sexism in the Qur’an, and claimed that She, and people in Muhammad’s close family knew well that He was not sexist (there is direct objective evidence this was true, because women played a crucial role in combat during the two battles that saw Islam crushed the Persians and the Romans). Aisha did not just talk, she went to war about preserving the Prophet’s work. But she lost the “Battle of the Camel” (circa 660 CE).

The Qur’an was very convenient to would-be dictators. God supposedly asserted that any Muslim in position of authority had to be obeyed as a religious duty. Muslim “scholars” were well rewarded to comfort this view with the writing 50,000 pages of the alleged life of the long dead Muhammad (the “Sunnah”). Then, they invented the “Shariah. Islam was soon dry frozen, imagined from Qur’anic fumes. It’s clear that Muhammad would not have been happy with what happened.

This is a bleak picture, but such is the problem. Denial is futile. This does not mean Muslim individuals are “bad”. But, in many Muslim regions, the one and only book people have learned from is Uthman’s “Mein Kampf”, the Qur’an, or derivatives of it, and that cannot be very good. That is why one should not pooh pooh efforts to build secular schools. An objective would be to teach what truly happened (and thus why there are so many different versions of Islam).

Initially the war in Afghanistan started when government and its Soviet allies were confronted to Islamists who killed to prevent little girls to go to school (Pakistan, officially an Islamist state since 1961, was behind it, because, as many a fascist state, it lives best by causing a mess in the neighborhood). With Machiavellian hubris, crafty operators in Washington saw that Qur’an fanatics could be used to make the USA overlord of Afghanistan. It worked. And so here we are.

After He acquired control of Mecca, Muhammad marched into (Greco-Roman) Palestine (Palestina, in Old Hebrew), at the head of a gigantic army of 35,000. It was the first razzia in 1,000 years. Romans and Sassanids were exhausted, it was now or never: the Greek, Roman and Persian empires had prevented the Jihad way of life out of Arabia for a millennium. The Romans refused combat, Muhammad went home, caught a fever and died. Lesson? Gandhi was about peace, Muhammad was about war.

His family and generals led the next invasion. They should have been crushed, but they had God on their side. In a few months that small army of maniacs crushed the giant Persian and Roman armies. Ever since the Islamists have been dreaming of repeating that incredible feat. For two generations, they did.

But Constantinople’s walls and its high tech, flame throwing navy repealed them (711 CE). So it was decided to go around the other way, through Spain (killing 20%), and then Francia, Italia, Switzerland. The war in Francia was terrible. The Muslims did not know about the Franks, but the Franks knew about them, and viewed them as a particularly deranged Christian sect. The Franks liked their Christian sects subdued. They had been for centuries the world’s greatest experts at war, even inventing some methods their enemy the Mongols would become famous for. The Franks fought like crazy, nationalizing the Catholic church to finance total war, forging the best steel, inventing heavy cavalry and the feudal system.
The war started in 721 and is still going on in March 2008 in Darfur. Its very first phase was the most violent, an eighteen years war culminating in the huge crucial, and very bloody extermination battles of Toulouse, Poitiers, and Narbonne (721-737 CE). As a warning, the spiteful Franks left the Muslim dead to rot. In the end, the Syrian army was annihilated. So the vengeful Persians seized the defenseless Caliphate in Damas, and moved the capital to Baghdad (749 CE).

Thereafter a Golden Age blossomed; bin Laden, and many a deluded obsequious western intellectual anxious to please Muslim fanatics, have claimed this enlightened age had to do with Islam. Yes, in a trivial way, no, in reality. Verily, most of the population of “Islam” was Christian and Jewish, but being protected from the rabidly anti intellectual theocracy in Constantinople by the awesome Muslim warriors, they were allowed to flourish. So, in an important sense, those three centuries became golden because they were more secular than what came before, or after (and they had the books and intellectuals saved by the Persians from the theocrats in Constantinople, and the caliphs were generally well conscious of the superiority of the West, and not just because they married Greek women).

When Islam was fully frozen into fascist Shariah laden rigidity, it collapsed onto thinking, and crushed it completely. A millennium of darkness followed. This has to be taught in Afghanistan too, but it can be made understandable only after many years of school. Muslim children should be interested to learn that the spiritual founder of Wahhabism (the state religion in Saudi Arabia) opposed finding understanding with the Franks (as Saladin did), and the Mongols (c. 1300 CE). Muslim authorities imprisoned him for “literalism” (namely dangerously asserting that the Qur’an had to be taken literally, so that, for example, when it orders to kill non believers, this is not a poetical way of speaking, but a mandatory course of physical action). Now, here we are, seven centuries later, and it’s the entire planet which has a problem with “literalism”.

(A few) Conclusions:

0) The two countries most responsible of the inception of the present bad situation in Afghanistan are Pakistan and the USA. It would be good for the EU to remind them that they drove the bus into the ditch, that’s what they do best, and they don’t own the tow truck.

1) The US ways of fighting in Afghanistan can be highly immoral, and ought to be stopped immediately, on that ground only. Intense aerial bombing borderlines on war crimes, it should be used only as a last resort (as it was in WW II). Moreover, that US way of war will lead to certain strategic failure. We are not in the wild West: there are 32 million Afghans, not just a few last Apaches to exterminate. It is hard to see why the EU would support such a would-be genocidal policy, but still it is what the EU would be doing were it were to obey blindly the spastic Bushmen in Washington.

2) Occupying higher moral ground in Afghanistan means contradicting the Qur’an, and exposing it for what it is. The Qur’an is thoroughly responsible of the decay of the Middle Earth in the last millennium. Exhibiting the massively murderous violence and obscurantism of the Qur’an cannot be done by bullets alone. Secular schools are more important. Bullets ought to protect schools, not replace them. And leave the mayhem at that. Don’t go around chasing the Taliban as if they were American Indians. Extermination is neither hoped for, nor feasible. Fight only in self defense, or exerting the right to protect lives.

3) More legal income should be given to Afghanistan immediately. Western countries already grow opiates for pharmaceutical purposes, so let’s allow Afghanistan to do it legally. The warlords, mafias and the Islamists have dominated the massive, illegal drug trade, and made themselves popular that way. Legalization will stop that. Countries such as France do not need the revenue from opiates, but Afghanistan does.

4) Unspoken is the geographical position of Afghanistan. It cannot have escaped the attention of NATO strategists: between the nuclearizing and Islamized Iran and Pakistan, and central Asia and the ocean. Western troops and aircraft in Afghanistan are part of a western “defense” (best defense being attack) system in Central Asia. Well, there is no need to keep a war going at vitam eternam to keep a military presence. If Afghanistan was treated well, and was secularist enough, western troops would be there to stay (amicably).

But Afghanistan is not well treated now. And blindly sending more storm troopers will only make the situation worse, because the operating paradigm was fixed by the dumb, ignorant and vicious US neoconservatives. In other words, unsaid, some in the US, in the guise of fighting the Islamists, are still fighting the “Great Game” (I. e., Britain barring Russian access to the Indian ocean). Instead, the UN (including Russia, India, China) should be invited to help (even if mostly symbolic), in an ecumenical spirit.
Patrice Ayme